Dickes B

*dickesb* by aiane030

I learn something new everyday, and I love it!

Seeed is a group I have only come in contact with a few times. But today a buddy of mine introduced me to the song “Dickes B”. 
Reggae beat with a hip-hop feel, the song has a lot to say – both good and bad, but all truthful – about Berlin. 

Those who know Berlin – even only in passing – will recognize many of the scenes in the video, which was obviously shot in winter. (hope it didn’t hurt too much boys)

It will not be surpassing my favorite Berlin anthem anytime soon, but it certainly does have a nice sound. (Passable lyrics translation). 

Enjoy the nice beat for a slow-starting Monday. 

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Curious Find

Expats have a tendency to miss those “little things” from home.
When I first got to Germany it became obvious that I would need to research and find new shampoo, different deodorant, dental floss, etc. And that was just in the bathroom.
In the case of some items, I ended up finding a product/brand which was better than what I was replacing. But when it came to others, I had to settle for something I didn’t really like as much as what I’d left back home. Never have I found dental floss which is as lovely to use as Glide brand, available in the States. Even after being purchased by Crest, they never have made it available in my purchasing circle. Thus I am a Glide dental floss importer; several boxes are standard on every return trip “home”.
Such is also the case for me and Q-tips
Oh sure, there were Pflegestäbchen available, but it just wasn’t the same. Simply put, the brands I found just didn’t have enough fluffy stuff at the end. (Yeah I know, First World Problems, eh?)
Several years ago my local Berlin drugstore began carrying various Q-tips, and I happily snapped them up. Having been previously burned by a temporary display of Campbell’s Mushroom Soup, I was afraid of the treasured cotton swabs of my youth disappearing as quickly as they had appeared, so I loaded up with several boxes. My first thought was to fill a shopping basket… but in the end I decided that would be overkill and three would suffice while keeping the cashier from wondering “What the hell is she going to do with 100 boxes of Pflegestäbchen?”. 
Which leads me to yesterday. Tripping down the aisle looking for some Q-tips I ran across this interesting box. Everything looks pretty normal until you get to to the green and red characters on the sides. They are Ampelmännchen (Wiki Deutsch/English), characters found in the walk/don’t walk traffic signals in the former GDR.
Unlike much of GDR culture and characters, Ampelmann has managed to stick around. People east and west alike considered it cute, and many former GDR residents rallied behind keeping this symbol of their past on the city streets. 
When first I visited Berlin in 2001, Amplemann was only found in the former east. But by the time I moved here in 2005, that had begun to change. I’ll never forget the first time I ran across that friendly green walking dude in the heart of the former west. 
Now they are found throughout Berlin. In the beginning the modification came only when a traffic signal needed to be changed, as happened in my neighborhood. A signal had been mowed over by a careless motorist. The next day… voila! Ampelmann in my former western neighborhood. The other three at that intersection were changed in the next six months, the rest of the street changed within a year.  
Running alongside this traffic signal story is a tale of marketing genius, evidenced here. Now Ampelmännchen can be found on  keychains and bottle openers, T-shirts, bags and even cookies… all sold out of cleverly located, (read tourist areas) stores about town. There is even an Ampelmann restaurant with little Ampelmännchen characters wearing chef’s hats adorning the place. All of this has led to Ampelmann being an unofficial symbol of Berlin, not as famous as the TV Tower, but certainly close. 
Back to that Q-tips box. What is that about? Did the owner of the stores set this up? It would seem to make sense as the store website has been printed on the box. No matter what, I assume at least he was paid a fee since it seems he owns the marketing rights. 
After a quick look I assumed that the logos were printed only on the plastic overlay which is designed to allow for easy opening and re-closing. This would allow for multiple branding possibilities as graphics could be easily changed per city/area/whatever. But no, the cute little green and red warning signals are printed directly on the box showing a greater commitment for the manufacturer.
I suppose that unless some person in the know answers this blog, I will forever wonder what that is all about. So tomorrow when I pull out two “Q’s” for my morning routine, I will not only be wondering about the sweet Ampelmännchen on the box, but also why the Q-tip logo on the box is different from the new one found on the website.

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Are You Humping My Leg?

Another WEBMU has come and gone.
The crazy, rollicking ride on the English speaking expat bloggers in Germany train landed in Cologne in the middle of October.

Serpent reflections

We came together, we ate, we drank, we talked until some of us lost our voices.
She has a bit of a limp wrist
It was pretty much like every other WEBMU I’ve attended; there was lots of conversation, lots of beer and not a lot of sleep.
Bahnhof curves
Pictures, pictures, pictures. As usual, I didn’t get many pictures of people. Others are soooo much better at that. But I did get some nice images.
And of course next year… WE’RE GOING TO BERLIN!

Berlin, Berlin, Wir fahren nach Berlin!
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Where have you been Snooker?
No where.
Karneval der Kulturen.

I could come up with a couple of juicy rationalizations for why I haven’t been blogging:
No time
No inclination
Nothing to write about
My dog ate that page
Dammit, nobody reads it anyway.

But actually it is just out of a laziness, I suppose. Once in a while I think, “I should blog about this, it is cool”, but never get down to it.

And then there are the cool alternatives. Twitter is much faster, more concise, instant gratification. Facebook attaches me to people I know and love, and I don’t have to think so hard about what I put on FB. Besides, I’m always a better “lurker” anyway. I really enjoy reading the blogs of other folks, even if I don’t always comment. And Twitter allows me moments of escapism through my workday, which is fabulous!

What have I been doing? I guess that you could say I’ve been living my life instead of trying to put it into words. Winter holidays were spent in Curacao having some of the best dives in my life. I’ve been working on trying to trim down (weight wise). I’ve not been doing as much photography as I would like. Art exhibitions. Lots of reading and movie watching. And of course… work, work, work.

So why pop up now, Snooker?
Around the corner is the WEBMU (Whiny Expat Bloggers Meet Up). Which I really want to go to. But may I just add that I would feel guilty if I ended up going to a blogging meeting without actually having blogged?

Let’s face it, on March 17th I was surprised by an e-mail which said that SnookerInBerlin had a new blog post! Wha? Howdiddathappen? When I opened it up I knew immediately. Oh yeah. I had seen something much earlier which would be perfect for St. Patrick’s Day, so I loaded it and gave it a run date… which it did… without me. So something actually showed up! Surprise Blogging! A whole new enterprise.

I mean, the blog hasn’t been COMPLETELY abandoned. Comment moderation has been in full swing. For a while there I was quite busy deleting comments from some guy in Malaysia who said nice things about my blog, or wrote a joke, and then proceeded to link to some scary website which probably sells drugs, or sex advice, or porn. What a nice guy!

So let’s see if I can come back here once in a while… perhaps I will even surprise myself.

Until then,
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What is with all the Fight?

Ahem, let’s take a ride on the Random Wheel

Poor little Mimi choked and sputtered yesterday while I tried to start her up after a week of ignoring her in cold weather… but last night and again this morning she woke right up with a roar. Love that scooter and the freedom she gives me even if these fall days have me arriving at my destination considerably more stiff and cold than when I started.

In the past couple of months I’ve been to both Lübeck and Lüneburg, small cities in the north of Germany. Personally I prefer Lüneburg between the two of them, but as for northern towns (not including Hamburg and of course Berlin which some consider flatly east), I still prefer Schwerin.

My gosh I’ve been becoming a bit obsessive about Urbexing. Germany has SOOO many abandoned sites, hospitals, military bases, tunnels and the like… and they’re waiting for me to explore them. Of course it is not a hobby I can pursue on my own. Unfortunately it isn’t strictly “safe” to walk around alone in 100+ year old buildings which are rotting away slowly, but they are so beautiful. It is interesting to watch as nature takes its course, slowly breaking down and covering up the things man has made. Yes, I’ve been filling up SD cards with pictures as well. Check out some of them here. If anyone would like to come with me, just let me know. I’ve got a list as long as my arm of places to go… Sweet No is simply getting tired of all this exploration.  

Rachael Maddow’s show last night was dedicated to the showing of a documentary about the murder of Wichita, Kansas’ own most famous abortion doctor. I lived in Wichita during most of this mess. The 1986 attempted murder of Dr. Tiller was horrifying and silly, the 1991 “Summer of Mercy” was a huge drain on the resources of the city. Driving down the highway adjacent to the clinic was like running the gamut of dead baby pictures. The protesters would do everything they could to draw attention to their cause, but the people of the city could have cared less and the great majority simply wanted them to leave. Even the Catholic Church nearby stayed out of the entire melee.

The man was performing a legal procedure. If they wanted to change policy, they should have worked within the legal system. Chaining themselves to cars and causing the waste of critical resources (police and fire) was not only wrong but unnecessary.

Unfortunately, in my humble opinion, the story didn’t go far enough into those cheering on the murderer. The O’Reilly’s of this world incited this type of behavior and are now running away from their culpability.

These people who make it their business to judge others should remember their Savior’s ideas about “Judge not, lest ye be judged”.
(OK, I’m jumping off of my soapbox. I just wanted to say that no matter your politics about an admittedly touchy subject, murdering the guy was an incredibly extreme way to deal with a situation which should have been covered by the courts. Check out the video here)

OK, um… breathe deeply … and release.

It’s clementine season again. No, it isn’t time for the song to rattle around in my head endlessly (although it is certainly doing that NOW… thanks a lot!); it’s time for the stores to fill the fruit section with citrus and more specifically, clementines! Man I love ’em!! The net of orange goodness sitting on my desk right now came from Spain. Hmmm. If that place has these things growing on trees, maybe I should just move there! I can polish off a kilo of these beauties in an afternoon, no problem.

Every night on my way home from work I pass by a Sparda Bank. Why are you telling me this Snooker, you might ask. Well, because after seeing the huge sign I immediately think of Sparta, the cat protagonist in the “Mean Kitty Song”. Once I think of the song, then I start humming it in my head, sometimes even signing the words as I tool down the street on Mimi the scooter. Do you have or love cats or maybe just like guys in baseball caps? Check out the cute video. Maybe you too will find yourself humming this lovely little ear worm at strangely inappropriate times.  

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has proclaimed Germany’s attempts to build a multicultural society have failed. I’m beginning to feel that being an immigrant in this country could get a bit harder, at least for the Muslims. Heck, even my sweet FIL read Thilo Sarrazin’s anti-Islam book, “Deutschland schafft sich ab ” (often translated as “Germany Does Away with Itself”).  There has been talk (finally) of issuing identity cards to the country’s foreigners as a better way to track who comes and goes.

I’ve often been involved in conversations where Germans are complaining about the immigrant problem in their country. After a moment or two they come to the realization that they are speaking with an immigrant at which time they often will assure me that I’m one of the “good” immigrants. Hmm… Any expats have a thought on this?

Been reading:
What Happened to Change We Can Believe In?

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Random Tuesday – Just ‘Cause I Wanna

Let’s take a ride on the wheel that is RTT. Random Tuesday gives me the option to simply babble in blog format whatever is on my mind.
Actually, what pops out of my brain is sometimes a little scary, even for me. But we’ll try to keep it between the navigational beacons.
Bullets, because I can’t focus people… simple as that.
* This morning I went to the American Consulate here in Berlin to get my expiring and quickly filling Passport renewed. Think airport security on a smaller scale. Oh, and you can’t have any kind of electronic device on you. Don’t even THINK about taking a phone inside.
* Attack life, it’s going to kill you anyway. ~ Steven Coallier
* Let me just say that after seeing the line of non-Americans waiting to get visas to visit America, I was REALLY happy to be holding that American Passport. I went directly in and did my business. When I came back out I could see the same guy was still standing in front of the same visa window. Ugh.
* I remember back to 2001 and my first visit to Berlin. For some reason I was expecting much more of a military feel to the city. The Wall was long gone, but I expected barriers or something. HA, all I had to do was approach the American Embassy (which has since moved)… Walls, barbed wire, armed guards. Yeah, this was what I had expected to see in Berlin… how proud I was to know that the only place I saw it was surrounding my country’s embassy. (smell the sarcasm, people?)
Love of the drink
I think I’m getting addicted to coffee…
and NO, I’m NOT giving up
my addiction to Coke Zero.
* The American Consulate is in a residential area rather than the Embassy which is surrounded by business. But don’t you think for one minute that it looks less secure. Yes ladies and gentlemen, the sidewalk a block away from the building is ALSO American Territory and is not available for scooter parking (yup, I found out the hard way). At least the Berliner PoPo (police officer in SnookerSpeak) lady was nice when she insisted that I move my vehicle.
* Does it still count as morning coffee if you drink it four hours after you get up?
* While I was walking on the non-American sidewalk where I was allowed to park my scooter, a colleague of mine stopped her car on the street and asked me if I wanted a ride. 3.5 million people in this city and she spots me. How sweet.. and strange all at the same time.
* Sweet No bought us tickets to the Köpenick Jazz In Town Festival to see the Australian “Guitar God” Tommy Emmanuel. He is magic, I must admit. And he knows his guitar! Want a sample? Check Tommy out on You Tube. Pick a song and just enjoy!
* The Berlin streets are full of people again. In late July / early August the residential  part of the city is a ghost town. School is of course out and many folks are traveling of town on holiday. Driving on the city streets is a breeze, with hardly any traffic back ups. Only the tourist areas are crazy full. Unfortunately I noticed yesterday that the pileups are happening more frequently. Sometimes I even have to wait through TWO lights! Yeah, I know… silly to complain about waiting only two light cycles, but hey… it’s what I’ve got.
* GAWD, what is all this ruckus about a Mosque near Ground Zero? Actually I can see both sides. But tend to come down on the side of “it is just real estate”. (yes, I’ve stood and looked into the gaping hole that used to be the World Trade Centers… yes, I felt the nauseous feeling knowing that so many people died there… yes, I was just as freaked as most Americans… no I don’t automatically hate all Muslims just like I don’t hate all Catholics because some nuns beat me when I was a child and made me use my right hand instead of my left – oh, and there is that whole little boy loving priest thing… and the Ireland thing… ). Are the politicos REALLY having to search THAT hard to find a divisive topic to set themselves apart from the “other side”? To be fair… we “Coalition Partners” have been building Ground Zeros around Mosques since 2003.
From our Paris trip last month

* Are you an American expatriate living in Germany? The new and cool Passport Card is NOT accepted by the German government as identification. At least this is what the guy at the Consulate told me. It is mainly for travel in North America no matter WHAT the Embassy website says about how the “passport card can be used as a valid citizenship identification” when outside of the United States. (not for international air travel, however) For real non-national identification in Germany it is best to carry your Passport at all times or to have your local court make you an official copy and carry that around with you (this costs about 20€). Perhaps this will change in the future and the Jerries will recognize the card as identification… but for now, it isn’t worth the 30€ for the card. Too bad.

* Because I was going to the Consulate and couldn’t carry any electronics, I left my camera at home… all day I felt just a bit naked. (the phone sat in the scooter, but it was just easier without the BA Camera – big ass camera).
* This morning right after getting up I watched a picture CD of Snooker’s life which my brother put together. Since it came out of my Mother’s photo collection, many of the pics were of my childhood. It is really, really weird to watch yourself grow up. Looking back at those former “Snookers”, I found myself reflecting on where my life has gone since the time that little toe-headed kid was playing in the autumn leaves with her new doggie. Here I am at the proverbial half-way point in my life. What will happen to all the future Snookers? Will I look back at pictures of me in my 40’s and be proud?
* “I think positive emotion trumps negative emotion every time.” – Cobb in the movie “Inception“. Go see it. In the theatre, now… don’t wait for DVD! Trust me. It is the next jump in movie making, much like “The Matrix”.
* Whoa… I was just going looking for pictures for the blog and did a search for American Consulate Berlin and my image of the new Berlin Embassy from years ago is first in the rankings… (pause for contemplation) Consulate / Embassy… oh well. In fact the forth picture in the returns is actually the British Embassy in Berlin. Don’t you just love the Internet?
OK, that’s enough random for now. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.
Are you wondering WHAT this Random Tuesday Thoughts thing is? Head on over to Keely the Un-Mom and see what she is doing.

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